A few years ago, in a particularly sweaty heated yoga class, I found myself fleetingly glancing at a yogi to my right and wishing I was wearing the grippy gloves and sock-like booties she was.
Since then, I've seen this type of product popping up more frequently at studios where I practice, and have been curious to understand how they function and feel during a typical yoga class.
Yoga Paws has been making gloves and its “toeless yoga shoes” since 2003, and is one of the most widely recognized within the yoga space, so I figured this was a good place to start. The products are made of Lycra/Spandex mesh, making them breathable, and completed with durable eco-friendly rubber which act as grip for your hands and feet, and essentially becoming what they call #TheWorldsSmallestYogaMat.
I took their SkinThin Yoga Paws for a test drive at my local yoga studio and overall, was pretty impressed with their capabilities. The gloves came in handy several times throughout class, especially in poses where you may need a little more stability, like in a yogi toe lock for Utthita Hasta Padangustasana, or extended hand-to-big-toe pose.
One downside, however, was the elastic bands that run between your fingers in the gloves can become uncomfortable during extended downward dogs, as the traction pads on both palms grip and pull the elastic finger webbing back into the skin. I would also recommend, if you don't already, to remove your rings and store them some place safe right before class.
On to the toeless yoga shoes. They are really more like slippers that wrap around the ball mound of your feet with a stretchy elastic strap that hooks around the heel. There is one smaller elastic band that goes between your big toe and second to big toe, but I didn't have issues with it like I did with the gloves.
In all consideration, I would definitely wear these to an everyday yoga class. I liked how the grippy foot pads really helped me get deeper into my downward facing dog earlier into the class. They also really improve stability in poses like warrior II, where its crucial for your back foot to be grounded and strong.
The foot pads challenged me a bit more than normal in standing balancing poses, because even though the pads are “skin thin” as the name says, you still have an extra layer under foot, which provides a different sensation than just your bare feet on the mat -- something that I am sure I would adapt to over time if I were to work these into my every day practice.
For those looking to take it to the next level, Yoga Paws also makes an “Elite” version of the gloves and shoes, which have an added level of padding to support your wrists and other pressure points. In poses like plank and crow, I noticed feeling more supported and stable with the SkinThin gloves, compared to just doing the poses with bare hands.
We love that you can easily tuck these away in your workout bag or keep them in your car, and use them to do some quick yoga just about anywhere -- including outdoor locations -- without having to schlepp a mat along. That’s enough of a bonus to have this yogi sold on a new addition to her practice for the foreseeable future.